spiced mulled wine from the Mountain Cafe Cookbook
spiced mulled wine from the Mountain Cafe Cookbook

Mountain Cafe Mulled Wine – it could be time to add extra brandy?

Let’s face it, many of us will be gathering in whatever groups we are allowed to around fire pits and beneath makeshift gazebos this festive season. So we thought it would be a good time to share our favourite festive tipple with you all.

Recipe from The Mountain Cafe Cookbook by Kirsten Gilmour

Every winter I love to look out of the kitchen around 4pm to see the cafe full of skiers, walkers, climbers and winter adventurers, sipping our hot drink specials and devouring cakes after an epic day in the Cairngorms.

Mountain Cafe Mulled Wine Ingredients
  • 750ml red wine (not super expensive, just a decent drop)
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 100ml diluting Ribena
  • 70ml brandy
  • 100g vanilla sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
How to Make Your Mulled Wine

Place everything in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Taste and add extra brandy, sugar or orange juice as you like.

That’s it!

Buy The Mountain Cafe Cookbook here – you’ll not regret it.

flavoured butters wrapped in clingfilm ready for the fridge
Flavoured butters wrapped in clingfilm ready for use

From The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool

by Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick

Flavoured butters are really quick and easy and are something Kirsty & Fenella use all the time to boost flavour and jazz up their seafood. In the Shack they use them instead of plain butter in most of their dishes. And they’re not just good for fish dishes – put a slice on a steak after cooking, stick some in your baked potatoes, stir into pasta. Whatever you’re cooking, these little flavour bombs will take it to a different level of tastiness. You can store them in the fridge for weeks or pop them in the freezer to take out when needed. Some of the flavours Kirsty & Fenella make at the shack include Chilli, Paprika and Lime; Mixed Herb; Lemon, Caper and Dill; Pesto and Saffron and Sweet Shallot but here’s the recipe for one of our favourites, Roast Garlic and Chive.

Roast Garlic & Chive Butter

  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 250g salted butter, softened
  • small handful of chives, chopped
To make your butter

First roast the garlic.

Preheat the oven to 120°C. Slice the bottom off the garlic bulb so the ends of the cloves are exposed. Now get a sheet of tin foil, scrunch it into a small bowl, and put in your olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper. Put your garlic bulb on top of the oil, cut side down. Wrap your tin foil over the top of the bulb to seal in a parcel and cook in the oven for around 45 minutes to an hour.

Check if the garlic’s ready by removing from the oven and giving it a wee squeeze – it should be super soft. If it’s not, put it back in the oven for another ten minutes or so and cook until soft but make sure you don’t burn it. Remove the garlic from the tin foil parcel. Once it’s cool enough to touch, flake off any loose peel and squeeze the soft garlic cloves out of the skin. They should slide out easily.

Place the roasted garlic flesh in a bowl with the softened butter and the chives and mix with a wooden spoon. We always season our butters with just a little amount of salt and some fresh black cracked pepper.

To roll your butter

Get some clingfilm and cut it about the size of an A3 sheet of paper. Lie this out flat on your worktop and spoon the butter mixture across the middle in a horizontal line, leaving about
a hand space on either side. Now hold the corners of the clingfilm closest to you and fold over the butter. Run your hands along the butter to the edges to smooth out and remove any air holes. Twist the clingfilm at either end and gently roll your butter to form a good cylinder shape. Perfect for storing in the fridge and freezer! Now why not try some more flavoured butters with your own favourite seasonings?

Buy The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool here

Soup is simple!
Soup is simple!

‘Soup is simple!’ says Fraser Reid. Well, he would know – he is the author behind one of our favourite and perenially popular titles, Seasonal Soups. Fraser runs Fraser’s Fruit & Veg in Dundee which focuses on supplying the most local produce that he can source. The aim, he says, is ‘to get produce harvested that morning and onto the shelves within the next couple of hours’ from local farms, allotments and even local gardens.

Here is Fraser’s vegan-friendly recipe for Butternut Squash, Coconut and Apple Soup which makes very tasty use of some autumnal staples.

Butternut Squash, Coconut & Apple Soup

The apple in this soup acts as a sweetener and can easily be replaced by using a pear, peach or apricot (depending on the time of year).

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp creamed coconut
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

Heat a pot on a medium-low heat and add the oil or butter. Fry the onion, carrot and garam masala for 5-10 minutes.

Add the squash and apple and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Pour in 1.2 litres of boiling water and add the stock cubes and the creamed coconut, stirring to make sure it dissolves. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth, then season to taste.

Serves 4

Buy Seasonal Soups here

Twisting the legs off a cooked crab

Do not be afraid of crabs! Once you have mastered the art of how to dissect a crab, then a world of amazing recipes from crab bisque to hot dressed crab to creamy crab linguine and beyond opens right up for you. So no need to worry if you can’t tell your dead man’s fingers from your white meat because The Seafood Shack-ers Kirsty & Fenella are here to tell you exactly what to to!

Take One Cooked Crab

  1. Twist off all the legs, small and large. Sometimes the feathery grey gills called ‘dead man’s fingers’ will come out with the large claws – these are not good to eat and will make you feel sick so make sure to discard them. Most of the time they will be in the body.
  2. Put the crab on its back so its tummy is upwards. You will see the crab’s two eyes, and below these there are two small flaps. Move these aside and push down on the slightly softer shell underneath with both your thumbs.
  3. Push hard to crack through…
  4. Then you can pull out the middle section of the body.
  5. Inside it looks like a bit of a mess, but you can eat everything EXCEPT the dead man’s fingers.
  6. Don’t worry – they’re so distinctive you can’t miss them – they look just like feathers.
  7. Pick through the rest of the meat and put it in a bowl. This is where you will find most of the brown meat.
  8. Now have a wee tidy up and start on removing the white meat from the leg and claws. Get the larger legs first and tear the claw from the leg. There will be two small pieces of cartilage – just make sure they don’t go into your crab meat bowl. Use a pick or a claw tip to get the meat from the leg.
  9. Now for the claw. Get a large, heavy spoon or a knife (choose one you’re not that fond of). Place the claw flat on a board and crack it in the middle with the blunt side of your knife or the curved side of the spoon, then turn it over and do the other side. Remove the bottom part of the shell and you should be left with half a cracked claw. Give it a rinse to remove any loose shell. You can either leave it like this or get all the meat out with a pick – just watch for the large think piece of cartilage in the middle.
  10. Always make sure you thoroughly pick through your white crab meat as you’ll often find small pieces of shell in it. There’s nothing worse than chewing down onto a hard piece of shell! You now know how to dissect a crab and need never be scared again.

Now…

Get yourself a copy of The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool and make something delicious!

a chicken, jointed, before being fried
Author, chef and musician Sarah Savoy and her classic fried chicken recipe
Here is Sarah Savoy’s recipe for Fried Chicken from her book The Savoy Kitchen – A Family History of Cajun Food. It’s a real American – and Cajun – classic.

“There are many things I often just assume people know how to do because I grew up doing them, and I’m often surprised when people say, ‘Oh my goodness, how did you make this [insert any ordinary dish here, like fried chicken, meatloaf, etc.]?’

So let me just toss in this one random soul food comfort meal. Serve it up with mashed potatoes, a side of corn macque choux and maybe some biscuits and gravy. To stop it being a complete carb overload, smothered okra is also great with fried chicken.”

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • A dash of hot sauce (or more to taste)
  • 300g plain flour
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne
  • vegetable oil for frying

Prep

Put the chicken pieces in a bowl with the buttermilk and add the dry mustard, thyme and a dash of hot sauce. Season the chicken with salt, black pepper and cayenne and mis well, then leave it in the fridge for at least one and a half hours, turning the pieces every thirty minutes.

Pour off as much of the buttermilk as you can, then mix the flour in with the chicken pieces to coat them. The batter will be very sticky and moist.

Frying Your Chicken

Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet with enough oil to cover the largest piece of chicken and heat the oil until it’s hot but not smoking. Working in batches, place the chicken pieces in the oil and fry on each side for at least eight minutes or until the juices run clear when you pierce near the bone with a small, sharp knife. Thighs take the longest – up to twenty minutes a side. Once cooked, remove the pieces, drain them on a bed of paper towels and transfer to the oven for only as long as it takes you to cook the other pieces.

Note:

While you’ve got the oil hot, why not mix up a batch of hush puppies to eat with the chicken? Mix up 240g cornmeal, 110g flour, 1/2 tsp bicarb, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, half a small onion (finely chopped), 250ml milk or buttermilk and an egg. Throw in some chopped jalapeños or crab meat if you have any and drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil. Fry on all sides until golden brown and drain on paper towels.

Note:

You can either fry the chicken wings as well, or freeze them to make hot wings another day.

Buy The Savoy Kitchen – A Family History of Cajun Food here

illustrated recipe for scottishstani spiced paratha by sumayya usmani

Recipe by

Sumayya Usmani

From

Tomorrow’s Kitchen – A Graphic Novel Cookbook

cartoon recipe for Scottishstani Spiced Winter Squash and Tattic Scone Paratha by Sumayya Usmani
Illustration by Shuangshuang Hao

Sumayya says about this lovely recipe for Scottishstani Paratha: ‘This recipe I share with you now has to be the one that gives me the most comfort. As a child, I would wake up on a Sunday morning to be greeted by the smokey scent of fresh parathas being made on the tawa (flat griddle pan), my mouth watering in anticipation of breakfast. My mother made these by mixing leftover mashed potato bhujia into flour to make thick breads with generous amounts of fresh coriander, green chilli, cumin and ghee. When I moved to Glasgow, I was amazed at how similar parathas were to tattie scones – leftover mash mixed with flour and butter, best cooked on a cast iron ‘girdle’. For me, this is my go-to breakfast now.’

Ingredients

  • 60g butternut squash, roasted until soft
  • 1 medium potato, peeled, chopped, boiled and mashed
  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 2 tsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 6 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3-4 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

How to make your Scottishstani Paratha

Mix all the ingredients except the ghee in a large bowl. Stir in the melted ghee, a little at a time, until the mixture reaches a dough-like consistency.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into tennis ball-sized pieces. Cover with a damp cloth.

Heat a griddle pan, tawa or frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add a little ghee, then reduce the heat to medium.

On a floured surface, roll each dough ball into a 6mm-thick patty. Place in the hot ghee and cook gently, pressing down the corners with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper, to ensure it browns evenly. When one side is cooked – about 3-4 minutes – turn over and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining dough and enjoy your Scottishstani Paratha!!!

cheesy scallops in the shell
Cheesy scallops topped with melted cheese
Photo by Clair Irwin

From The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool

by Kirsty Scobie & Fenella Renwick

Honestly, if you love scallops and you love cheese this is a must-do recipe! It is also a great crowd pleaser so perfect if you’ve got pals over
for dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 16 scallops, shucked
  • glug of vegetable oil
  • a small handful of parsley, chopped
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • salt and black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 200g cheese, grated, plus extra for the top (we use a mix of Parmesan and Gruyère)

Also, 8 curved scallop shells, cleaned

How to make your Cheesy Scallops

Make your cheese sauce first. Melt your butter in a pan on a medium heat, then stir in your plain flour and the crumbled stock cube. Cook this off for a few minutes, stirring constantly so the flour doesn’t burn. Slowly pour in the milk, constantly whisking until you have a thick, smooth white sauce. There are no rules so add more or less milk depending on how thick you like your cheese sauce. Now stir in your cheese and keep on a low heat until it has melted.

Set your grill to a high heat. Dry the scallops well on kitchen roll to stop them spitting when you add them to the pan. Put the frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. When it’s good and hot, put in the scallops. You want to hear them sizzle – if they don’t, your oil isn’t hot enough. Don’t move them around in the pan, just let them fry for a minute and get a nice caramel colour. Season, then flip them over, season again and cook for a minute on the other side.

Now place two scallops in each shell and pour over some of the cheese sauce. Finish with some grated Parmesan, then put under the hot grill on a baking tray until the cheese starts to brown and caramelise. Serve with some chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon.

Buy The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool here

Street view of Brick Lane Market

Picture of a bowl of Chicken Korma and a plate of pilau rice with peas.

From Brick Lane Cookbook

by Dina Begum

Chicken korma cooked at home is unlike any restaurant version (which I would never eat). Originating from Mughlai cuisine, a real korma is rich, decadent and very special. It’s usually made with a mixture of whole spices, yoghurt and ghee, and cooked slowly to create a depth of flavour you really can’t get in a hurry. There are none of the colourings or sugar you get when you order the curry house version. Sometimes a little nut paste is added which makes the dish even more opulent and perfect for feasting. There are many variations of korma across the Indian subcontinent and I’ve based mine on the ones I’ve grown up eating. I use Greek yoghurt for a mellow, creamy flavour, less tangy than natural yoghurt. Whole green chillies are used for fragrance instead of heat so don’t be tempted to cut them as korma is meant to be mild. I find that a mixture of thigh and breast meat gives the best result, but you can use one or the other if you prefer.

  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 5cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • 100ml oil
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp panch phoron
  • 3 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 1/3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/3 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • 800g skinless chicken breast and thigh meat, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 300g Greek yoghurt
  • 6 whole green chillies

To make your chicken korma

Crush the garlic and ginger together in a mortar and pestle. Heat the oil and ghee in a large pan on medium-high heat and add the garlic, ginger and panch phoron. After a minute add the onions, salt, dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, black pep- percorns, cinnamon sticks and star anise and sauté until golden – around ten minutes. Add 200ml water, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the onions have broken up and the oil has separated.

Keep checking regularly and if the mixture gets too dry or catches at the bottom of the pan add a dash of water and continue cooking.

At this point stir in the cumin, coriander, chilli powder and turmeric and turn up the heat to medium. Cook for two to three minutes until the spices are fragrant and have separated from the oil. If the mixture gets too dry, add a dash of water so the spices don’t burn then cover and cook for a few minutes. Now take the chicken pieces and add them to the pan. Stir this around for a couple of minutes to seal the meat, then cover and cook for ten minutes, checking now and then to make sure nothing’s burning. Towards the end of the ten minutes you’ll notice the chicken releasing moisture – which indicates that it’s almost fully cooked.

Take the pan off the heat, wait for a minute and then gradually add the yoghurt, a little at a time so it doesn’t curdle. Finally, toss in the green chillies, return the pan to a very low heat and simmer for another eight to ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the gravy is thick and silky. Serve with my easy pilau rice with peas.

Cook’s tip – to ensure the very best chicken korma it is absolutely essential that you take your time over the onions. They should slowly soften, until they almost caramelise and disintegrate. Add a dash of water now and then if they brown too quickly and be patient!

A delicious bowl of vegan bean soup

 

Recipe by Kirsten Gilmour from The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

Another beast of a recipe from big Kev, Kirsten’s favourite vegan hippy mountain-biking chef! Perfect as the nights draw in…

A delicious bowl of vegan bean soup
  • I use a mixture of adzuki, pinto and cannellini beans in this soup but it’s up to you what you use. Tinned beans are also fine – just drain and rinse them, then add them into the soup once it’s three-quarters cooked so they don’t turn to mush. 
  • Always check packets of dried beans to see if they need to be soaked overnight, rinsed or hardboiled before using. Here are general rules for the beans I use: for cannellini, kidney or black-eye beans, soak overnight, rinse and hard boil for ten minutes; for adzuki or pinto beans, just rinse.
  • Much to Kev’s horror, this soup is awesome with crispy pancetta and Parmesan shavings on top. 

Vegan, Wheat free, Gluten Free

Serves 4

  • 140g mixed dried beans, soaked and preboiled as needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 small pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small courgette, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 handful basil, chopped
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (or 2 stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre hot water)
  • ½ x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Wash your prepared beans well with fresh water and leave to drain in a sieve while you prepare your veggies. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, pepper, courgette, garlic, chilli, basil and parsley and sauté until everything is glossy and starting to soften but not taking on any colour. Stir in the paprika and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes. Mix in the drained beans, then pour over your stock and the tinned tomatoes. Bring up to a light boil for 30 to 40 minutes until the beans are absolutely tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and some more chopped fresh herbs if you want. I sometimes stir in a spoon of tomato purée at the end to add depth and richness to the soup.

fresh rhubarb - eat seasonally for mental wellbeing
fresh rhubarb - eat seasonally for mental wellbeing
cover image by Brian Hartley

Introducing Sonnda Catto!

Sonnda Catto, over at Eating for Wellbeing & Joy, has created this fab free eBook, Eating for Mental Wellbeing in Lockdown. Nutritionist, researcher and ex-Michelin starred chef, she sets out 3 simple food steps we can all follow to stay positive and boost our mental wellbeing in this unsettling time. Fun, easy ways to take back control and feel better right now.

Crammed with top tips for seasonal eating, loads of delicious healthy recipes and a playful, slightly tongue in cheek, mindfulness-of-rhubarb meditation (not to be missed by Yorkshire triangle rhubarb fans!!), it’s a fantastic resource to have in your self-care toolkit. All packaged up with a welcome dose of light relief.

We can’t recommend it highly enough. To download your copy, simply follow this link: http://www.sonndacatto.co.uk/free-ebook.

More from Sonnda below.

Background to the eBook

This booklet came about on the back of a request from university colleagues for healthy eating tips in lockdown. People were panic buying and worrying about food shortages, but it seemed to me that the single greatest risk posed to health by lockdown/social distancing measures is to our mental health and wellbeing – I explain why below.

My colleagues loved the ideas I shared. So much so that I decided to publish the booklet as a free eBook, available for download from my website. People have really responded to its positive, empowering outlook, light tone, and the concept of seasonal eating as a way to be mindful. What’s really resonated though, I think, is the sense of control it gives back to people. At a time when so much is out with our control.

Why the focus on mental wellbeing?

As former research lead for reporting on Scotland’s mental health and wellbeing at Public Health Scotland), I’m well versed in the determinants of mental health and wellbeing. And was struck by how many stood to be negatively impacted by lockdown/social distancing. Across all four domains: individual-level factors (such as education, health behaviours, and physical health), plus features of our social, economic and physical environments.

🔸Our ability to be physically active

🔸The food we eat

🔸Alcohol intake

🔸Community participation

🔸Social contact, support + inclusion

🔸Trust

🔸Neighbourhood trust, safety + crime

🔸Having a sense of control over our lives

🔸Having work, work-related stress, demand, control, support + work-life balance

🔸Our finances

🔸Home overcrowding

🔸Access to green spaces and a personal ‘escape facility’.

But please take heart, because I believe there’s much you can do to stay positive and nurture your mental health and wellbeing in this unsettling time.

My advice

In the booklet, I set out three 3 simple food steps you can follow to boost your mental wellbeing. Fun, easy ways to take back control and make yourself feel better right now. They are:

  1. Eat for self-care and connection – tapping into the individual-level and social determinants of mental health and wellbeing
  2. Eat for connection to time, place and nature – using seasonal foods to tap into the power of the natural environment to build positive mental health
  3. Eat mindfully – contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to get onto the yoga mat or do a meditation to calm your mind. Food’s multisensory properties make it a marvellous subject for mindfulness. So, with my tongue slightly in cheek, I’ve written a playful meditation on the mindfulness of rhubarb. Featuring gorgeous, bubble gum-pink, UK rhubarb – grab the Yorkshire forced stuff before the season ends, just days to go now!

Eating for wellbeing and joy

To help you add a few seasonal foods to your diet, I’ve shared my top tips for seasonal eating at this time of year. So you know what to do with each seasonal ingredient for maximum health benefit and pleasure – for wellbeing and joy, my nutritionist/chef trademark – each one is supported by one or more of my own recipes. Nothing complicated; just simple, seasonal eats. The kind of food where effort and time is totally disproportional to enjoyment (little and lots, respectively!).

Recipes include a sugar-free rhubarb compote, scented with vanilla and sweetened with just enough honey to take it from mouth-puckeringly sour to refreshingly tart. Totally dreamy dolloped over luscious, full fat Greek yoghurt, and scattered with a handful of shatteringly crisp toasted flaked almonds. Cavolo nero (aka black kale) wilted down and tossed through pasta with a few slugs of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and freshly grated parmesan or wonderfully salty, crystalline aged Gouda – a regular parmesan sub in my kitchen.

I’ve included a couple of ways to eat Romanesco, the delicate, nutty-tasting, green cauli with florets shaped in jaw-droppingly beautiful prisms. Including the prettiest pastel green, soft as a cloud, Romanesco cream. Excellent as a side veg, slathered on toast, as a dip. Or, my personal fave, mound into a bowl, make a small indentation on top, fill with EVOO and rest a soft-boiled egg inside the puddle. Ultimate springtime comfort food!

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then download your FREE COPY now: http://www.sonndacatto.co.uk/free-ebook.

Take good care, stay positive, and please feel free to share the link with those you think could benefit – we’ll get through this by looking out for each other. 🤗